AAV-BDNF gene therapy ameliorates a hypothalamic neuroinflammatory signature in the Magel2-null mouse model of Prader-Willi syndrome


Queen NJ, Huang W, Zou X, Mo X, Cao L

Scientific Notation:

Molecular Therapy Methods & Clinical Development 2023, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.omtm.2023.09.004

Publication Link:



Individuals with Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) exhibit several metabolic and behavioral abnormalities associated with excessive food-seeking activity. PWS is thought to be driven in part by dysfunctional hypothalamic circuitry and blunted responses to peripheral signals of satiety. Previous work described a hypothalamic transcriptomic signature of individuals with PWS.  Notably, PWS patients exhibited downregulation of genes involved in neuronal development and an upregulation of neuroinflammatory genes. Deficiencies of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and its receptor were identified as potential drivers of PWS phenotypes. Our group recently applied an adeno-associated viral (AAV)-BDNF gene therapy within a preclinical PWS model, Magel2-null mice, to improve metabolic and behavioral function. While this proof-of-concept project was promising, it remained unclear how AAV-BDNF was influencing the hypothalamic microenvironment and how its therapeutic effect was mediated. To investigate, we hypothalamically injected AAV-BDNF to wild type and Magel2-null mice and performed mRNA sequencing on hypothalamic tissue. Here, we report that (1) Magel2 deficiency is associated with neuroinflammation in the hypothalamus and (2) AAV-BDNF gene therapy reverses this neuroinflammation. These data newly reveal Magel2-null mice as a valid model of PWS-related neuroinflammation and furthermore suggest that AAV-BDNF may modulate obesity-related neuroinflammatory phenotypes through direct or indirect means. 

FPWR Grant:

Gene Therapy of Obesity in Prader-Willi Syndrome by an Autoregulatory BDNF Vector (Year 2)